Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James Langston Hughes  

Pen Name: Langston Hughes


Born: February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri

Died: May 22, 1967, in New York, New York

-- Facebook --!/pages/James-Langston-Hughes/115431871803674=james+langston+hughes
-- Langston Hughes on C-SPAN American Writers --
-- Website --
-- James Langston Hughes on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Hughes moved to Lincoln, Illinois when he was 13 years old. While he lived in Lincoln for only one year, it is here that he wrote his first verse and was named class poet of his eighth grade class. In the 1942, he wrote a highly successful column in the ''Chicago Defender'' for which he created a comic character named Jesse B. Semple, a black everyman that Hughes used to further explore urban, working-class black themes, and to address racial issues. This column ran fot 20 years. In 1949, he became the poet in residence for the Laboratory School at the University of Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Hughes was a poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright, song lyricist, radio writer, translator, lecturer, author of childrens books, columnist and social activist. He was a prolific writer who is well known for introducing jazz poetry style.

Published Works

  • Simple Takes a Wife, Simon & Schuster, 1953
  • Simple Stakes a Claim, Henry Holt & Co, 1957
  • The Book of Negro Folklore, Dodd Mead, 1983
  • African American History: Four Centuries of Black Life, Scholastic Trade, 1990
  • The Ways of White Folks: Stories, Vintage, 1990
  • Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, Vintage, 1990
  • Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life in Three Acts, Harper Perennial, 1991
  • The Big Sea: An Autobiography, Hill and Wang, 1993
  • I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey, Hill and Wang, 1993
  • The Block, Metropolitan Museum/Viking, 1995
  • The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Vintage, 1995
  • Pictorial History Of African Americans, A: Newly Updated Edition, Crown, 1995
  • The Return of Simple, Hill & Wang, 1995
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf Books, 1996
  • Not So Simple: The Simple Stories, University of Missouri Press, 1996
  • The Sweet and Sour Animal Book, Oxford University Press, 1997
  • First Book Of Jazz, Ecco, 1997
  • Carol of the Brown King: Nativity Poems, Atheneum, 1998
  • 101 Great American Poems, Dover Publications, 1998
  • Simply Heavenly, Dramatist's Play Service, 1998
  • Short Stories, Tandem Library, 1999
  • Hughes: Poems (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets), Everyman's Library, 1999
  • Best of Simple, Ams Pr Inc, 2000
  • The Book of Rhythms, Oxford University Press, 2000
  • Simple's Uncle Sam: With a New Introduction by Akiba Sullivan Harper, Hill and Wang, 2000
  • The Novels: Not Without Laughter and Tambourines to Glory (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol. 4), University of Missouri Press, 2001
  • The Poems: 1951-1967 (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol. 3), University of Missouri Press, 2001
  • Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights (Collected Works of Langston Hughes, Vol. 10), University of Missouri Press, 2001
  • Vintage Hughes, Vintage, 2004
  • Let America Be America Again: And Other Poems, Vintage, 2004

Selected Titles At Your Library

Holt social studies technology sampler.
ISBN: 9997406044. OCLC Number:

Holt, Rinehart and Winston,. U.S.A. :. [2003?]

The CD-ROM (State-specific social studies sampler) contains samples of printable teacher resources, editable lesson plans, a test generator, a presentation maker, and previews of videos and other technology resources included in four middle and secondary school textbook series: People, places and change, Holt call to freedom, American civics, and People, places and change : Western world. The Special needs resource package contains modifications ready-made for special-needs students, including guided reading activities, vocabulary activities, main-idea activities, daily quizzes, and chapter and unit tests. The compact disc contains samples of audio lessons contained in Holt people, places, and change, Holt call to freedom, Spanish student edition: Holt call to freedom, Holt world geogrpahy today, Holt world history, and Holt the American nation and includes a selection from Holt American music CD.

The Book of Negro folklore /
ISBN: 0396081975. OCLC Number:

Dodd, Mead,. New York :. 1983, ©1958.

African American history :
ISBN: 0590354523. OCLC Number:

Scholastic,. New York, N.Y. :. ©1990.

The ways of white folks /
ISBN: 0679728171. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1990.

In these acrid and poignant stories, Hughes depicted black people colliding--sometimes humorously, more often tragically--with whites in the 1920s and '30s.

Selected poems of Langston Hughes.
ISBN: 067972818X. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 1990.

Overview: With the publication of his first book of poems, The Weary Blues, in 1926, Langston Hughes electrified readers and launched a renaissance in black writing in America. The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who "rushed the boots of Washington"; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in "the raffle of night." They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture. They spanned the range from the lyric to the polemic, ringing out "wonder and pain and terror-- and the marrow of the bone of life." The poems in this collection were chosen by Hughes himself shortly before his death in 1967 and represent work from his entire career, including "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," "The Weary Blues," "Still Here," "Song for a Dark Girl," "Montage of a Dream Deferred," and "Refugee in America." It gives us a poet of extraordinary range, directness, and stylistic virtuosity.

Mule bone :
ISBN: 0060968850. OCLC Number:

HarperPerennial,. New York, NY :. [1991], ©1931.

The only literary collaboration between Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, this play marked a turning point in African-American theater. This volume tells the story of the play's conception and inspiration and gives complete details of the irreparable rift in Hurston and Hughes's friendship that came about because of it. Also included is Hurston's short story, "Bone of Contention."

The big sea :
ISBN: 0809015498. OCLC Number:

. .

This book chronicles the life of Hughes, who came of age early in the 1920s in the two great playgrounds of the decade: Harlem and Paris.

I wonder as I wander :
ISBN: 0809015501. OCLC Number:

Hill and Wang,. New York :. 1993.

From the Publisher: In I Wonder as I Wander, Langston Hughes vividly recalls the most dramatic and intimate moments of his life in the turbulent 1930s. His wanderlust leads him to Cuba, Haiti, Russia, Soviet Central Asia, Japan, Spain (during its Civil War), through dictatorships, wars, revolutions. He meets and brings to life the famous and the humble, from Arthur Koestler to Emma, the Black Mammy of Moscow. It is the continuously amusing, wise revelation of an American writer journeying around the often strange and always exciting world he loves.

The block :
ISBN: 067086501X. OCLC Number:

Viking,. New York :. 1995.

A collection of thirteen of Langston Hughes poems on African American themes.

The collected poems of Langston Hughes /
ISBN: 0679764089. OCLC Number:

Knopf :. New York :. 1994.

Here, for the first time, is a complete collection of Langston Hughes's poetry - 860 poems that sound the heartbeat of black life in America during five turbulent decades, from the 1920s through the 1960s. The editors, Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel, have aimed to recover all of the poems that Hughes published in his lifetime - in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals, and in his books of verse. They present the poems in the general order in which Hughes wrote them, and also provide illuminating notes and a chronology of the poet's life. Arnold Rampersad, the author of the esteemed two-volume biography of Langston Hughes, has written a perceptive and moving introduction that throws light on Langston Hughes's distinctive voice as a poet and the world in which he lived.

A Pictorial history of African Americans /
ISBN: 0517596660. OCLC Number:

Crown Publishers,. New York :. ©1995.

A history of African Americans from the origins of slavery in the colonies to the present day, with reproductions of many illustrations, photographs, and historical documents.

The return of Simple /
ISBN: 080901582X. OCLC Number:

Hill and Wang,. New York :. 1995, ©1994.

The dream keeper and other poems /
ISBN: 0679883479. OCLC Number:

Knopf,. New York :. ©1994.

A collection of sixty-six poems, selected by the author for young readers, including lyrical poems, songs, and blues, many exploring the black experience.

Not so simple :
ISBN: 0826210880. OCLC Number:

University of Missouri Press,. Columbia :. ©1995.

"The "Simple" stories, Langston Hughes's satirical pieces featuring Harlem's Jesse B. Semple, have been lauded as Hughes's greatest contribution to American fiction. In Not So Simple, Donna Akiba Sullivan Harper provides the first full historical analysis of the Simple stories."--BOOK JACKET. "Harper traces the evolution and development of Simple from his 1943 appearance in Hughes's weekly Chicago Defender column through his 1965 farewell in the New York Post. Drawing on correspondence and manuscripts of the stories, Harper explores the development of the Simple collections, from Simple Speaks His Mind (1950) to Simple's Uncle Sam (1965), providing fresh and provocative perspectives on both Hughes and the characters who populate his stories."--BOOK JACKET. "Harper discusses the nature of Simple, Harlem's "everyman," and the way in which Hughes used his character both to teach fellow Harlem residents about their connection to world events and to give black literature a hero whose "day-after-day heroism" would exemplify greatness. She explores the psychological, sociological, and literary meanings behind the Simple stories, and suggests ways in which the stories illustrate lessons of American history and political science. She also examines the roles played by women in these humorously ironic fictions. Ultimately, Hughes's attitudes as an author are measured against the views of other prominent African American writers."--Jacket.

The sweet and sour animal book /
ISBN: 0195120302. OCLC Number:

. .

Twenty-six short poems introduce animals for each letter of the alphabet, from Ape to Zebra.

The first book of jazz /
ISBN: 0880015527. OCLC Number:

Ecco Press,. Hopewell, N.J. :. 1997, ©1982.

An introduction to jazz which focuses on its historical development.

Carol of the brown king :
ISBN: 0689818777. OCLC Number:

Atheneum Books for Young Readers,. New York :. 1998.

Five poems by Langston Hughes and one anonymous one translated from the Spanish present the story of the first Christmas from different perspectives.

101 great American poems /
ISBN: 0486401588. OCLC Number:

. .

A collection of 101 popular American poems from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Short stories /
ISBN: 0613025040. OCLC Number:

Hill and Wang,. New York :. 1997, ©1996.

Offers a collection of stories written between 1919 and 1963 that follow Hughes' literary development and the growth of his personal and political concerns.

Poems /
ISBN: 0375405518. OCLC Number:

Knopf,. New York :. 1999.

In the delightfully small Pocket Poets format, a selection of the poems of Langston Hughes -- one of America's greatest popular poets since Walt Whitman. From the publication of his first book in 1926, Hughes was hailed as the poet laureate of black America, the first to commemorate the experience of African-Americans in a voice that no reader, black or white, could fail to hear. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, this volume is a treasure -- an essential collection of the work of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

The best of Simple /
ISBN: 0404199364. OCLC Number:

AMS Press,. New York :. 2006.

A selection of the author's favorite stories chosen from three of his books: "Simple Speaks his Mind," "Simple Takes a Wife," and "Simple Stakes a Claim."

Simple's Uncle Sam /
ISBN: 0809086816. OCLC Number:

Hill and Wang,. New York :. 2000.

Twentieth-century African-American writer Langston Hughes' final collection of stories based on his "Chicago Defender" newspaper character Jesse B. Semple, a simple man who commented on a wide range of everyday topics within the context of race and politics.

The novels :
ISBN: 0826213421. OCLC Number:

University of Missouri Press,. Columbia :. ©2001.

Although best known as a poet, Langston Hughes was also the author of two novels that richly evoke the black experience in America. First published in 1930 and 1958, respectively, Not without Laughter and Tambourines to Glory reflect the early and late vision of one of the twentieth century's most distinguished men of letters. In his introduction to this combined edition of both novels, Dolan Hubbard addresses Hughes's growing influence on American letters and reveals how a black aesthetic tradition shaped his art and his imagination. Hughes shows us how the discourse of black America informs and alters our understanding of cultural history and of aesthetic values. In Not without Laughter, he movingly tells the story of a black boy growing into manhood in a small Kansas town during the early twentieth century and his experiences with race, family, school, work, music, and religion. His grandmother, a humble religious woman, struggles to keep her family (living with her are two of her three daughters, one son-in-law, and her grandson) together, on the meager income she earns by taking in washing. Set in Harlem, the center of Hughes's spiritual universe, Tambourines to Glory is an urban folk melodrama based on the black fusion of Christian hymns and spirituals with the blues. This comic novel captures the spirit of newly transplanted southern blacks who bend the alien rhythms of the city to the gospel sound. This volume of The Collected Works of Langston Hughes is a testament to a man whose life and writings have had a profound influence on world literature and is proof that Hughes's immense talent embraced not only poetry, but fiction as well.

The collected works of Langston Hughes /
ISBN: 0826213413. OCLC Number:

. .

The eighteen volumes are published with the goal that Hughes pursued throughout his lifetime: making his books available to the people. Each volume will include a biographical and literary chronology by Arnold Rampersad, as well as an introduction by a Hughes scholar lume introductions will provide contextual and historical information on the particular work.

Fight for freedom and other writings on civil rights /
ISBN: 0826213715. OCLC Number:

University of Missouri Press,. Columbia ;. ©2001.

Nearing the end of a distinguished literary career that spanned nearly fifty years, Langston Hughes took on the daunting task of writing the official history of the national Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Beginning with the social, political, and economic contexts that led to the founding of the NAACP in 1909 and ending with a summary of its targeted goals for 1963, Hughes attempted to write a history that would be comprehensive in scope and singular in its purpose of highlighting the ways in which the Association had a direct and positive influence on racial justice in the United States. Focusing on the individuals who had the greatest impact on the NAACP and the issues with which the organization was most concerned in its first fifty years of existence, Hughes produced the widely acclaimed Fight for Freedom, striking an exceptional balance between biography and cultural history. Long before the publication of Fight for Freedom, Hughes had begun writing nonfictional prose about these same issues as a regular columnist and essayist for the nation's most influential African American publications, including the Chicago Defender and Crisis. A selection of these popular columns and other essays - which reveal the extent to which Hughes's unique, varied, and sometimes Blues- tinged narrative voice shifted in tone over the course of his extensive career - is included in this volume. Hughes intersperses historical facts with compelling anecdotes that often frame subtly ironic commentaries on various themes. The result is history that provides a lens through which to view Hughes's attitudes in the early 1960s toward the ways the NAACP addressed the vital social, cultural, political, and economic issues central to its agenda. Fight for Freedom and Other Writings on Civil Rights makes a unique contribution to the oeuvre of an African American writer whose full significance to American literature, history, and culture will continue to be defined well into the twenty-first century.

Vintage Hughes /
ISBN: 1400034027. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 2004.

Presents selected works from "The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes," and "The Ways of White Folks."

Let America be America again and other poems /
ISBN: 1400095190. OCLC Number:

Vintage Books,. New York :. 2004.

Hughes's 1936 poem is accompanied by a selection of the American poet's work offering an inclusive and democratic vision for America.


Harmon Gold Medla for literature

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (No)